What does an Ironman look like?

I went to the running shop to acquire some new running shoes tonight.

I was a bit surprised at the sales assistant's opening line, "do you mainly walk or do you do a bit of jogging???"

This isn't a new experience to me. Once when I went into a bike shop to buy a helmet, the sales assistant suggested one of those chunky little numbers with a visor, that mums and dads wear when they take their kids for a trundle down the bike path on the weekend. After telling him that my fellow triathletes would laugh at me if I rocked up to the Half Ironman I was doing that weekend with a visor on my helmet, he sheepishly retreated to find me something more appropriate to my needs.

Tonight my response was, "yeah, I do a bit of jogging.... (pause)... I'm training for my third Ironman."

Now I know I probably wasn't appropriately attired - no finisher medal hanging round my neck or anything - but it begs the question, what does an Ironman look like?

People of all ages, both men and women, undertake the challenge of Ironman. People of all ability levels, with finishing times ranging from 8 to 17 hours.

We all do it for our own reasons, some more personal than others. Some merely tick it off their list, and forget the hype the moment they cross the finish line and return home to their families, jobs and "normal" lives. Others, including me, take the opportunity to reflect on what I've achieved through Ironman.

I've built a stronger, fitter body through hours of training... not that it seems that anyone can tell... But the most significant changes have happened in ways that aren't visible, or perhaps even tangible. They are in the way I view the world, my loved ones, and myself.

It's not what an Ironman looks like, but how the world looks to an Ironman that counts.

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